LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) — The Los Angeles Times is being sold to a local billionaire for $500 million, ending its strained tenure under the owner of the Chicago Tribune.

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong is a major shareholder of Chicago’s Tronc Inc., one of the richest men in Los Angeles and, according to Forbes, the nation’s wealthiest doctor, with a net worth of $7.8 billion.

The announcement Wednesday means that for the first time in 18 years the Times will be under local ownership.

The surprise deal will include the Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, along with $90 million in pension liabilities, according to the Times. Tronc, touted as a the digital spinoff of Tribune Co., had previously fended off efforts to buy The Times and had insisted it was one of the premiere publications in a portfolio that also included the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News, the Orlando Sentinel and The Baltimore Sun.

Soon-Shiong takes over in a time of turmoil at the paper. The Times just replaced its top editor, the third switch at the position in the newsroom in six months. Publisher Ross Levinsohn had been on unpaid leave after revelations that he was a defendant in two sexual harassment lawsuits elsewhere. Tronc announced Wednesday that Levinsohn has been cleared of any wrongdoing and would be reinstated as CEO of its newly reorganized Tribune Interactive division.

Journalists voted last month to unionize for the first time in the paper’s 136-year history.

Clashes between The Los Angeles Times and Tribune Co. erupted not long after it acquired the West Coast paper in 2000. Staff at the Times bristled over what it considered a string of bad decisions made from hundreds of miles away in Chicago.

The editor of The Los Angeles Times, John Carroll, who led the paper to 13 Pulitzer Prizes, resigned under heavy pressure to cut staff. Before he left, he asked an old friend and billionaire philanthropist if he would consider buying the paper.

Publisher John Puerner stepped down at the Times, as did his successor, Jeffrey Johnson, shortly after.

Dean Baquet, who took over for Carroll, left after 15 months. He is now the executive editor at The New York Times.

The sale of The Los Angeles Times is in keeping with one of two trends in media ownership: big companies getting bigger and wealthy investors taking on newspapers as philanthropic endeavors.

In 2013, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post for $250 million. Boston Red Sox owner John Henry bought the Boston Globe for $70 million.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (31)
  1. Corrupt FBI employees setup a hit that went bad and inadvertently killed 40 Chinese citizens at the Lantern Festival in Beijing in 2004.

    The corrupt FBI employees had taken bribes from Al Quida and needed to silence a person with information about it. The bribery incident was reported by a former software engineer writing software for the NSA in the San Fran Bay Area and I decided to leak.

    Here is what happened.

    When I and a sales associate from the company I worked for arrived in Beijing, we met two local sales associates that worked in China. They had very good English skills and I assumed they were local sales. The local sales associates escorted us to a restaurant and strongly insisted we all drink to celebrate our arrival to China. This was just after a 13 hour flight.

    After many drinks and being awake for 30 hours I was extremely tired. That is when the local sales associates very strongly insisted that we all go to the Lantern festival. I could not believe they were insisting so strongly. It did not make sense since we needed to be at the office early the next day.

    After this strange argument we had about not wanting to go, myself and the sales associate I traveled with, went back to hotel.

    The next morning I turned on the local English version news, the hotel catered to international clients. I saw that 40 people were killed, many drowned when a stampede broke out at the Lantern festival. This was the festival the local sales associates insisted we go to. I was astonished.

    I met with my sales associate for breakfast and was about to say something about the incident, ” Did you see what happ..”, when he with a very serious look on his face shushed me. We never spoke about it again.

    After the incident we seemed to have a greater presence of tails (assumed Chinese Intel.) I got the impression it was not about being a suspect in the stampede but concerned for our safety.

    After I returned back to San Jose, I had to turn around the next day and fly to Washington DC where my parents lived. As I was walking through Reagan airport there was several people tailing me and they kept saying things under their breath like “good work” and “well done”.

    Back to work, just a week later, I am walking through the office in San Jose, the two local sales associates I met in Beijing were in the office. I thought to myself, how could they get a visa that quickly?

    1. Greg Gadfly says:

      Other witness can verify as well.

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